Column - We must lessen our reliance on coal for a brighter future
Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 10:07
The future of the coal industry is uncertain.
Many Americans, especially West Virginians, rely on the financial stability the industry offers, and current regulations and other facets have had burdening effects.
The Environmental Protection Agency has pushed regulations to dramatically reduce emission produced by coal plants, which has increased the price of coal.
According to a CNN.com report, the Maximum Achievable Control Technology or MACT rule requires that coal and oil-fired power plants reduce pollutant emission rates. The EPA estimates this will shut down 1 percent of the national electricity capacity and will increase the cost of coal by 3.7 percent in retail electricity, although others in the industry estimate the costs will be much greater.
Furthermore, the price of natural gas has decreased, which means that energy producers are purchasing less coal.
With this, nearly one-fifth of the nation’s coal powered electricity plants have closed, costing Americans thousands of jobs.
But, Americans should not be up at arms with federal regulators. They are simply addressing a problem most people ignore – the longevity (or lack thereof) of resources on this planet.
It is true that many families are being hurt by new restrictions on the coal industry, but that is just the evolution of the energy business.
Those who have close ties with the coal industry must realize the effects it has on the environment and that it can not last forever.
If we do not explore other options for energy now, it will be too late later.
There are many ways in which the coal industry damages the environment, such as pollutive air emissions and damage to rivers and streams from runoff of sludge ponds built to hold waste from coal processing plants.
According to www.greenpeace.org, cardiopulmonary disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, lung disease and kidney disease have been found at higher-than-normal rates among residents who live near coal mines.
It is not feasible to simply ditch using coal, nor is it sustainable to continue our use of it. The only solution is to gradually lessen its production and use.
It presents a real threat to our planet, and there must be another way for energy to be harnessed.
I know there will be people reading this who will disagree and most likely be upset, but it is the truth. We can’t wait until the quality of life on Earth is so poor that there are no other options; a continuation of our energy consumption and production cannot continue as they stand.
Those who rely on the coal industry must understand that coal is not sustainable in the long run. Since it is a finite resource, it will only become more expensive as time progresses, and its effects on the environment will only grow worse.
While many alternative energy recourses, such as solar and wind, are expensive and aren’t currently capable of replacing the coal industry, they could be in the future. The only way to ensure their success is to invest our time and money into them now.
To argue that the production of coal will last forever is a failure to accept facts. And waiting for when it is too late will damn us all in the end.
I understand many families will endure hardships while the transition from coal takes place, but it is something that must be done.
People must accept the inevitable so we can work for a brighter and cleaner future.